A letter from Mike Nesbitt MLA, Ulster Unionist leader:
If David Simpson MP can’t substantiate his insinuations that members of the Ulster Unionist Party directed verbal abuse against his children during the general election campaign then he should withdraw them.
Mr Simpson has refused to provide any information to back up the claims.
I have made it clear beyond any fraction of doubt that if there is any evidence that a member of the Ulster Unionist Party engaged in verbal abuse of that nature that I would personally drive to their home to refund their annual membership and dismiss them from the party. Mr Simpson has failed to contact me with a scrap of evidence.
I am disappointed, but also angry because some Ulster Unionist staff members have been badly verbally abused in our constituency offices by members of the public who have been pumped up by the allegation.
I again challenge Mr Simpson to give substance to his allegations. I also challenge him and the Portadown Times to publish the name of the polling company who allegedly conducted the poll which falsely concluded there was a risk that voting for Jo-Anne Dobson on the 7th of May could have resulted in a Sinn Féin win in Upper Bann.
This poll was published without reference to who carried it out, when it was conducted, the methodology used, or crucially, who paid for it.
It was for exactly this reason that the British Polling Council was set up, and their members commit to providing this information when publishing polls.
I can only conclude that whoever conducted this poll is not an accredited pollster and the poll therefore should not have been published so close to the end of a very close-fought election for a Westminster seat.
If I am wrong, the remedy is in the hands of others.
They need only provide the information they have thus far refused to share with the voting public.
I have no difficulty with Mr Simpson winning the seat on merit, so it would be helpful if he would clear the air and offer the explanations I requested in my open letter on Sunday.
Mike Nesbitt MLA,
Ulster Unionist leader